How Doctors Can Leverage Mobile Technology For Patient Retention

The mobile wave has engulfed the world and its impact on healthcare has been nothing less than overwhelming. According to a research conducted by Markets and Markets, the mHealth technology market is expected to grow by 33% to cross USD 60 billion by 2020. Another survey by GreatCall showed that 93% of physicians believed that mHealth could contribute greatly to improving patient health. As mHealth cements its place in healthcare, let’s evaluate how doctors can leverage mobile technology for patient retention.

Reduce Wait Times

Long wait times could be listed as one of the biggest banes that patients face when going for a doctors’ appointment. Even with prior appointments, most patients have to wait endlessly to meet their doctors. And often after a seemingly endless wait, the patient is informed during a consultation that they have to come back after conducting a certain battery of tests. This is not only a waste of time for the patient but the doctor as well. With the consumerisation of healthcare, doctors can now leverage mHealth apps to take a look at patient history and intimate them of the tests that need to be done before they even meet them. Further, using mHealth apps, doctors can avoid appointment overlaps and post-appointment confirmation and notifications which ensure a smoother interaction with the patient during his/her physical visit.

Effective Communication

The right mobile apps can play a great role in making the doctor-patient communication more effective. Patients can easily store all their medical records and health history on comprehensive mobile health apps and access them anytime and anywhere. This solves the problem of the missing documents that we ever so often face when meeting with a doctor. With all the information stored in a central repository, doctors can spend the face time with the patients more productively and promote better interactions to manage the patients’ health better. This also leaves the patient more satisfied and less likely to shop around for another doctor.

Better Patient Management

Using mHealth doctors can improve patient management and become more proactive with their patients. Proactive patient management in the form of timely communication regarding patient appointments, important notifications, and updates, post-appointment messages etc. can be delivered to the patient using an app to ensure that the patient does not miss out on any vital piece of information needed to maintain their health. Along with this, doctors can centralise all patient-related information in a central data repository that can be accessed anytime and anywhere which can be of great help to manage a patients’ health remotely.

Pre and Post-Operative Care Management

One of the biggest pain points that patients have is regarding pre and post-operative care. While information is provided to them both regarding pre and post-operative care, it is usually disseminated in one session making it hard to retain the information. Using mobile apps, doctors can send out relevant information to their patients at the right time so that the patients can take the measures both pre and post operation. This not only helps in better health management but also reduces readmission rates and helps in reducing healthcare costs for the patient.

Better Transparency

Patients today demand greater information access. While the healthcare sector has adopted digital technology, they are still trying to play catch up with other sectors such as retail. Patients today demand faster information access regarding their health. Research shows that a majority of healthcare consumers prefer using digital technology to visiting a hospital to get clarifications regarding the care that they are receiving. A 2017 study by American Well states that 26% of patients are likely to change healthcare systems to find a provider offering tele-visits. Doctors leveraging mHealth can help their patients access all the health information they need and proactively answer all questions that go into better health management.

Pre-emptive Care

mHealth applications also provide a treasure trove of data that physicians can leverage for pre-emptive healthcare. Leveraging data analytics, doctors can plan better service delivery dependent on the patient requirement, and analyse and predict health conditions based on the patients’ health records to enable preventive healthcare. Further, doctors can upload tutorials on preventive healthcare and give practical advice to their patients on how to manage their health and health conditions better. All these things help in keeping the patients, the current consumers of healthcare, happy and satisfied as they find doctors becoming more invested in their health.

As they say that numbers do not lie, and going by the adoption rate of mHealth it is becoming clear that this technology trend is not only here but is soon on its way to becoming the enabler of better interactions and better patient outcomes. Using mobile technology doctors can create greater engagement with their patients and enable better outcomes. Patient retention then becomes an automatic consequence of this effort.

5 Things that Doctors Hate in Healthcare IT Technology

Technology has impacted every walk of our lives. The last few years have seen revolutionary technological advancements. From landline telephones to smartphones, from feature phones to iPhones, from slow internet connections to today’s 4G connections, technology has phenomenally transformed our lives. The way we read news on mobile, interact with friends and family members through social networking sites, do online shopping – technology has changed the way we live our lives.

Similar to other industries, the healthcare industry also is seeing rapid changes owing to the innovations in medical devices and software. Digital technologies are changing the way care is administered to patients and also the way healthcare organisations function. While there is a growth in the adoption of healthcare technologies by health providers, there is also displeasure amongst the doctors about the available healthcare technologies. It is not that doctors are not used to using latest technologies – they are the ones who have been using the latest technologies since a long time – right from MRI machines, X-Ray machines, or the various hospital instruments, they are well versed with the use of technology. Then what is wrong with today’s healthcare IT solutions?

Research shows that hospital staff spends on an average 5 hours a day entering patients’ data into electronic health records (EHRs). Hospitals are needing to hire more staff for conducting data work. A large chunk of the hospital income is being spent on keeping up with technological advancements and maintaining a task force for it. This is a completely counter-intuitive scenario. When the technology is supposed to reduce time and efforts and enhance the patient care, what is making it not deliver on its promise?

Here is our take why doctors could be hating the healthcare IT solutions available to them –

Mobility

Most of the times, doctors are on the move. From hospitals rounds, OPDs, to moving from one clinic to the other – they are hardly at their desk. The biggest drawback of many of the available healthcare IT solutions is their stationary nature. The doctors are required to input data regarding their patients after returning to their desks. With so many patients in the hospital and with an equal number of them visiting daily in the OPD, it becomes tasking to remember, recollect and retain the accurate information for each of the patients. Doctors need a solution which can allow them to access patient information anytime, anywhere, right from their mobile devices.

Non-Intuitive Interface

Some of the most crucial duties of doctors include attending to emergencies, looking after inpatients, medical floors, and attending intensive care units. What doctors need a solution which can provide them quick and easy access to patient data, reduce the costs of operations, reduce human errors and help in reliable prescriptions.

Doctors need a system which can allow them to enter data with a few clicks or drag and drop. They need a system which is extremely easy to use, works on their mobile phones or tablets, is designed “for doctors”. In many cases, the health IT solutions do not consider the working patterns of the doctors and are designed in a very complex fashion. 

Non-Integrated Systems

Hospitals and clinics generate a humongous amount of data – patient records, inventory records, data from medical stores and labs, and so on. While technology has entered hospitals and some records are being maintained through computers instead of paper records, all the systems still work in silos. There is no integration of this information. This further adds to the woes of the doctors and the medical staff working in the hospitals and clinics. A major chunk of their medical time is invested in maintaining, finding, or sorting the data. Having a solution which integrates various aspects of the healthcare ecosystem will immensely help the medical fraternity as it can give them quick access to all the required information.

Complex Workflows

Each hospital and clinic follows specific workflows. Just because they are adopting a particular technology does not mean that the hospitals will change their workflows. The health IT solution should be flexible and adaptable to the hospital’s specific workflows. It needs to allow the creation of custom workflows. Since no two doctors think alike, each doctor follows a specific style of working, a specific pattern, and processes the information in a particular way. When the IT systems force all the doctors to follow the same pattern, the doctors don’t appreciate it and it makes them unproductive.

Hard to Manage 

The doctors or the staff at the healthcare organisation are not necessarily equipped to handle complex hardware and software. Handling software failures or hardware updates is a daunting task for them. Hospitals also do not want to build and manage their own IT teams to maintain and upgrade their IT systems. They need solutions which can be accessed via the web, do not require any efforts on their part to upgrade or maintain, and do not need any capital investment in hardware or software. That’s where the latest cloud-based solutions are gaining popularity amongst the doctors and hospitals.

Time is of the essence for doctors, and they need to take very crucial decisions within a very short time. We, at Mars Plus believe that technology should aid the doctors in their decision-making, reduce their time and efforts, help them spend more time with their patients, reduce their costs and overheads, and improve the overall patient care. With that in mind, we have designed a very user-friendly and fully-integrated healthcare ecosystem – check it out at www.marspls.com.

 

Healthcare Meets Technology – When Two Worlds Converge

The recently concluded Times Health Icons Pune 2017 event, conducted by the Times of India, felicitating some of the pathbreakers in the field of medicine met with resounding success.

Mars Pune Times Health Icons

MARSPlus was the sponsor for this event. We got an opportunity to have a candid conversation with up Dr. Bhandari who was one of the speakers at the event. Dr. Bhandari is a renowned bariatric surgeon and a strong technology advocate. He is the Founder Director of Mohak Bariatrics and Robotics, Indore and Director, Bhandari Hospital and Research Centre, Indore and has performed over 8000 Bariatric procedures. He has also been featured in the Limca Book of Records for operating over 25 complex and diversified Bariatric /Robotic procedure in a span of 11 hours! He has conducted more than 750 complex robotic bariatric procedures and his centre is one of the most sought-after centres for revisions in weight loss surgery addressing failures after bariatric surgery.

Here is an excerpt from the conversation.

Dr. Mohit BhandariTechnology, according to Dr. Bhandari, is a great boon for the healthcare segment. Having established one of the most technologically advanced hospitals in the country, he believes that the use of technology in healthcare is a critical enabler of productivity, ensuring precision and patient satisfaction. Unlike the propaganda of ‘technology is a distraction’, Dr. Bhandari believes that when used appropriately, technology actually can improve efficiencies of doctors and help them manipulate their time effectively. Managing multiple patients and hospital functions and functionalities can add to the cognitive burden. Technology helps a great deal in alleviating this burden and helps in building an interconnected network that not only improves process efficiencies but also helps in placing the patient at the heart of the healthcare process.

With the great consumerisation of everything, healthcare too now has to become more patient-centric. The relationships between doctors and patients have undergone a massive shift. The patients are no more just the passive recipients of healthcare. Their expectations from their healthcare experience are rising. Since doctors only have a finite amount of time in their hands, they have to ensure that the time they spend with their patient is optimally productive. According to Dr. Bhandari, having a siloed healthcare approach cannot enable productive interactions. Doctor-patient relationships now have to be more engaging and doctors cannot afford to waste their time in looking for information. They need to maximise their time with patients.

Dr. Bhandari feels that while technology has been a part of the healthcare ecosystem, health tech has to become simpler. Disconnected and siloed solutions to automate or digitise healthcare not only limit information sharing but also demand a lot of time and attention, something that is a premium for most healthcare practitioners. Some of the earlier healthcare systems have been so complex that they demanded a separate team of technicians only to do data entry. As one of the earliest adopters of MARSPlus integrated health app, he feels that the ease of use offered by MARSPlus is what makes it a unique solution.

Dr. Bhandari deduces that when health tech offers an integrated experience, it paves the path for delivering good healthcare services. According to Dr. Bhandari, “a fully integrated platform like MarsPlus allows me to stay connected with my network of remote doctors, laboratories in other cities and most importantly stay connected directly with patients.  As a bariatric practice, we need to closely monitor patients progress and overall health after they have left our facility and MARS helps us do that seamlessly.”

The complexity of use of healthcare applications has been one of the biggest impediments to adoption. Since doctors are people who are always on the go, an easy to use platform that connects all the stakeholders of healthcare, the doctors, the hospitals, the labs, the pathology departments and ancillary areas such as billing and finance can be a great boon. Dr. Bhandari uses the MARSPlus solution extensively in his own hospital to ensure patient satisfaction, identify areas of improvement and stay in touch with his patients proactively. The additional benefit is that he doesn’t have to depend on his diary to manage his appointments. His app manages everything with surgical precision for him.

Dr. Bhandari attributes the success of his hospitals to “exceptional team skills, a correct attitude, infrastructure with cutting-edge technology, and keeping pace with time”. He believes that technology has interwoven itself into the very fabric of our lives and we should leverage it to the maximum. He himself uses technology to manage the post-operative care of his patients. “A good technology solution also helps us leverage data”, he says. He further adds “When we have a single repository of all patient data then the time spent with the patient is more productive.” When we asked him if he felt that technology was a distraction for the doctors his reply was simple. He said “Not at all. In fact, it helps in spending more time with the patients.

During the course of this event it became clear that contrary to what we are lead to believe, doctors are, in fact, strong advocates of technology. After all, they are surrounded by it during all their waking and working hours. However, what they do not like is the manner in which these solutions are built and the complexity of use. A comprehensive and integrated healthcare solution that takes into considering all the important checkpoints, is easy to use, mobile compatible and allows the anywhere, anytime use can enable proactive healthcare is clearly be a welcome addition to the healthcare ecosystem of today.

Here Is What Doctors Need to Know About Machine Learning And Artificial Intelligence

Statistics show that today we are battling a global shortage of doctors. According to the World Health Organization, there is a global shortfall of over 4.3 million doctors and nursing staff across the world. This shortage of doctors might not be impacting the U.S that much but the country is plagued by increasing healthcare costs that limit the time that a patient can spend with a doctor. In countries such as India that has a huge rural population and some parts of Africa for example, there is a shortage of doctors and access to good medical services. Doctors too are feeling the brunt of these rising pressures and are now looking at avenues to improve their efficiencies to improve patient outcomes and have been open to technology adoption to facilitate the same.

One technology that is gaining prominence in the healthcare sector is Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence. A study by Frost & Sullivan highlights that the AI market in healthcare is expected to grow to $6.6 billion by 2021 from USD 7,988.8 million in 2016. According to Accenture, the use of AI in healthcare can save the industry over $150 billion over the next decade. So what is it that makes AI and Machine Learning, computing systems that can complete designed tasks independently of human intervention using algorithms that can self-learn, so beneficial to the healthcare sector?

Faster Diagnostics

Machine Learning is not just beating up board game experts but is being used extensively to recognize disease symptoms in patients. Machine Learning and AI applications can scan through thousands of documents much faster than humans can. These applications are therefore perfect for running diagnostics for medical cases that demand record and diagnostic comparisons. Analysis of tests, X-Rays, CT scans, etc. can be done faster and more efficiently by AI and machine learning systems. For example, IBM’s supercomputer Watson established its credibility as Dr. Watson when it diagnosed the exact condition that was plaguing a leukemia patient by cross-referencing patient information with over 20 million oncology records. Watson not only came up with the right diagnosis but also did the same in a matter of minutes using the power of the computing system.

Preventive Medication

Doctors across the globe are leaning in heavily towards preventive medicine. AI and machine learning systems have been of great help in this area as the computing power of these systems can help assess which patients will need medical intervention when a patient or patients are likely to fall sick, common denominators causing recurring ailments in patients etc. Using these diagnostics, doctors can take a more preventive approach to medicine for better patient health and reduce hospital readmissions.

Good pre and post-operative care are essential to reduce the rate of readmissions in hospitals. But how can doctors ensure that their patients are taking the necessary precautions to ensure the same? AI systems come of great help here. AI applications can help in providing timely alerts pre and post operation regarding the care the patient should take. They can help in optimizing the doctor’s time and schedule by ensuring that the most pressing and urgent messages reach them first. Along with this, AI and machine learning applications also have the capability to assess the mental state of the patient and hence can be immensely helpful in mental health cases. Using this information, doctors can assess who will need medical intervention and also determine the timeframe for the same.

Robots in the OT

No, the robots are not replacing the doctors in the operating room but are being of immense assistance there. Repetitive and time-consuming tasks of the operating room such as making sutures can now be done with the help of robotic automation that helps in reducing surgery time. Along with this, you have the cognitive robots who are taking pre-operative medical information and integrating it with real-time operating metrics to increase the surgeon’s instrument precision. This also helps in improving patient safety as the more tedious and routine parts of the surgery are replaced with robots running on the power of AI and Machine Learning.

Telemedicine, Online Consultations and Virtual Nurses

Voice-powered AI applications are here to answer patients queries regarding their health. These applications help in better health management, chronic disease management, and long-term maintenance, and also assess patients for potential health risks. These AI applications called virtual nursing assistants are expected to become an industry staple and help the healthcare industry save more than $20 billion. These intelligent AI applications help in reducing the time taken during physician interactions as they provide answers to most of the patient queries. The time spent with the doctor thus becomes more productive and can be leveraged more effectively.

Machine learning and AI are also helping doctors in making telemedicine more efficient by aiding better diagnosis, enabling remote monitoring using machine learning, detecting rare genetic diseases, and solving logistical challenges by using predictive analytics.

AI and machine learning are here to act as the efficient doctor’s assistants. The aim of AI and machine learning, unlike what is written, is not to replace the doctors but to help them increase their efficiencies and replace the burden of mundane tasks from their shoulders so that they can focus on the human elements of patient care.

4 Ways Smartphones Can Help Patients and Doctors Save Valuable Time

The past couple of years have seen the monumental impact that the smartphone has had on our everyday lives. From banking to retail, to manufacturing…there is hardly an industry that has not been touched by the smartphone revolution. Healthcare is no different. The smartphone has made inroads into the healthcare segment to improve efficiencies and aid decision-making. Modern-day healthcare mobile apps, leveraging digital technologies, cloud computing, etc. are working towards upending every aspect of healthcare and place the doctor and the patient in the centre stage.

The smartphone revolution had also led to the consumerization of healthcare. Patients want to now take charge and be in control of their healthcare decisions, want more clarity regarding healthcare and demand value of their time. At the same time, physicians juggling multiple clinics and hospitals demand more control of their time.

In this blog, we take a look at a few ways smartphones can assists doctors and patients save valuable time.

Access to Complete Health Records

Physical documents are not only hard to manage but also prone to getting lost and can be difficult to organise. In most cases, healthcare history and health records are stored in fragments…some with a medical practitioner, some at a hospital or some at home, etc. In order to save time during a consultation, having access to the complete medical history saves both the physicians’ and the patients’ time. Mobile apps can be used to upload the patient’s complete health history, lab reports, test results, pathological reports, prescriptions, x-rays, etc. which can be securely accessed both by the doctor and the physician. No time is then lost rummaging for information since all of it is documented in an organised manner on the handy smartphone itself and can be accessed anytime, anywhere.

Clearer Communication

How many times have you, as a patient, gone and spent time waiting at a doctor’s clinic only to be told that you need to come back after conducting certain tests? Even doctors, who always are time constrained, have spent time with patients going through their records only to realise that they need to send the reports for a consult with someone else or need the patient to go for another round of tests.

The healthcare scenario is replete with such examples where better communication between the patient and doctor could help both capitalise their time and reduce time wastage. Smartphone health apps can improve the channels of communication between doctors and patients. Since all the health care records, data and information are stored and uploaded to the application, the doctors can easily access these and identify if additional investigations need to be conducted, additional consults need to be made or if the patient can be sent a message regarding any vital piece of information to manage his/her health. The doctors can also share the patients’ medical report with other doctors for consultation with just a tap on the screen which also contributes to saving a lot of time.

Further, using the smartphone, doctors can send patients automated updates regarding health management and pre and post-op management instead of having to do so physically.

With access to their health data, patients too can ask more relevant and focused questions to their doctors. They can discuss medications, side effects, health impacts of their current physical condition etc. more accurately with their doctors. This ensures that the time spent with the physician is optimised and the discussion there is result-driven.

Finance Management

Medical finances can be quite complex to manage and lead to a lot of time wastage for both, the doctor and the patient. Smartphone apps can help immensely here by keeping track of all medical expenses for the patient. Medical bills, doctors’ fees, insurance claims details, cost of lab reports, hospital reports etc. can all be stored the mobile app and accessed from the smartphone whenever required. For doctors too, mobile apps can be of great help in making finance management simpler and more organised. Instead of wasting their time managing their financial transactions and making sure that these are organised, doctors can simply use a smartphone app to centrally store and manage all financial information such as transactions, referral fees, consultation charges, clinic and hospital billings etc. easily and access them whenever needed easily.

Analyse This

Data is king. It gives us detailed and quantified insights to make better and well-informed decisions – both for the patients and the doctors. Better decisions mean better health and patient management which consequently translates to optimal time usage and lesser time wastage. Access to medical health analytics can be easy using a good smartphone app. These apps compare health history, evaluate crucial checkpoints, and reveal relevant data that gives patients intelligent insights into their current state of health. Armed with this information the patients can take preventive steps to improve their health and avoid medical problems.

Doctors also can leverage healthcare analytics to better schedule their time and take a more preventive approach to health and disease management. Analysing medical and health data can inform doctors when patients tend to get sick most, the kind of health risks emerge at which times in the year, what kind of tests are being run repeatedly, what factors are contributing to repeated ailments etc. Analytics also helps in better clinic and practice management – all of this ensure that the time at hand can be used for the best purpose.

Clearly, time today has become the ultimate commodity and a common denominator for both physicians and patients. As the smartphone becomes a ubiquitous part of our lives, it only makes sense to use it to increase the time efficiency of our healthcare interactions and make sure that the time doctors and patients have at hand is utilised in the best possible manner – in decisive conversations that make health better.